These Common Allergens Could Be Lurking in Your Beauty Products ...


Are you aware of some of the most common allergens in makeup? If not, some of the reactions you have to some beauty products could to be due to some of these ingredients. There are two types of skin reactions to beauty products: irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs when a product damages your skin; and allergic contact dermatitis, which can cause redness, swelling and hives. Everything from shampoo to body wash and even nail polish can cause reactions in some people. It might sound crazy, but it’s much more common than you might think. If you suspect that you might have fallen victim to some of the most common allergens in beauty products, take a look below.

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One of the most common allergens you’ll find is p-phenylenediamine, or PPD. This ingredient is typically found in hair dye, whether you buy it at a drugstore or a salon. There are a few brands that don’t contain this ingredient, but the majority of them do. If you’re getting your hair done at a salon, you can always ask for PPD-free dye. Some of the common reactions to this ingredient are dermatitis in the scalp, face, eyes or ears, which can include a rash, swelling and burning sensation in these areas.


Shea Butter

No, not shea butter! I know, shea butter is in so many things and while it may seem harmless, those with nut allergies should stay far away from this ingredient. Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur says that she has seen people with nut allergies have heightened reactions to both shea and cocoa butter. Even if a product says it’s organic or natural it can cause allergic reactions, says Marmur, so don’t be fooled by the labeling.



You won’t always know when this common allergen is in your beauty products because most products contain a formaldehyde-releasing agent, which goes by another name but can cause just as much chaos on your skin as the real stuff. Where will you find formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing agents? You can find it in nail polish, nail glue, body wash, baby shampoo, body soap and wash, hair smoothing products, eyelash glue and hair gel. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that can cause rashes and irritation.



Whether they're in food or makeup, preservatives are bad news. Some of the more common preservatives in makeup are phenoxyethanol, thimerosal or imidazolidinyl urea. An allergy to preservatives can cause redness, rashes and itchy, irritated skin. What’s the best way to determine if a beauty product contains a preservative? Since many preservatives have such long, complicated names, the best way to tell is if the product contains water. Most products with water need a preservative.



We all want to smell nice, but perfumes and fragrances in cosmetics are some of the most common allergens around. Did you know that according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, the fragrance industry uses up to 3,000 ingredients with a whopping 900 of those that are known to be toxic? According to Mukti Organic Skincare, fragrances in cosmetics have a cumulative effect which can eventually cause a skin allergy. There is a lot more information on Mukti Organic Skincare’s blog if you’d like to learn more: If you have sensitive skin and want to avoid any potential reactions, always look for fragrance-free products.



These days, you’ll see many beauty products that are labeled paraben-free since more and more people are aware of the potential adverse reactions to them, such as allergies, immunotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption. Parabens can be labeled as ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, basically anything that ends in –paraben. Look for this ingredient in lotions, shampoo and conditioner, facial cleanser, body wash and scrubs.


Cinnamic Acid

Many people look for certain acids in beauty products because they can help with getting rid of dead skin cells, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone and more. However, there are a number of people who have reactions to cinnamic acid, which is commonly found in toothpaste. This ingredient fights tartar, but it can also cause itchy outbreaks on your lips or around your mouth. If you’ve been experiencing itchiness around your mouth, it might not be your makeup, but your toothpaste.

Remember, you can have an allergic reaction to both natural and man-made cosmetics, so don’t assume that just because you’re using a natural makeup line, it won’t cause a reaction. Have you ever had an allergic reaction to makeup or any other beauty product before?


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I'm allergic to fragrance, Thimerisol, and parabens among countless other things. I never knew how many products I was allergic to until I had the testing done. My skin is finally clear and my scalp is almost healed (sores and irritation along with dandruff and hair falling out due to allergens)

Nope. Luckily I haven't.

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